The exact date, as well as the story, of when the first deck of playing cards appeared is debated up to this day.
Many historians say that playing cards first originated in India, inspired by the game of chess. Some believe that they first appeared in Egypt as part of the country’s influences of fortune-telling and “magic.”
But the first written record of the use of playing cards actually came from the Orient. It dated back to the 12th century. The cards were then introduced to Europe – particularly in Italy and Spain. The following century, it spread throughout the Middle East.
Did you know…
That a deck of playing cards has 52 cards that represent 52 weeks in a year?
It also has four suits which represent the four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The total number of cards in a deck is 365 (with one joker) to represent 365 days in a year, and 366 (with two jokers) to represent a leap year.
That each of the suits symbolizes four prominent pillars of the economy during the Middle Ages?
The diamond suit symbolized the merchant class, the heart suit symbolized the Church, the club suit symbolized agriculture, and the spade suit symbolized the military.
That each king in a deck represents a famous king from the history?
The king of diamonds represents Julius Caesar. The king of hearts embodies Charlemagne. The king of clubs personifies Alexander the Great. The king of spades stands for King David. Out of the four, only the king of hearts is without a mustache.
That during the World War II, there were specially-constructed decks of playing cards sent to American soldiers who were confined in German camps?
The US government and the United States Playing Card Company worked together to design and produce unique decks of playing cards. When American soldiers dipped the cards in water, they can peel the paper apart. Inside, they found parts of a map that can help them escape the encampment.
That the largest producer of playing cards is the United States Playing Card Company (USPC)?
The company was founded in 1867 and is currently based in Cincinnati, Ohio. USPC manufactures over 100,000,000 decks of cards every year. The USPC produces some of the most popular brands of playing cards like Aristocrat, Bee, Hoyle and Bicycle. The company also works in collaboration with other popular brands like Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, and Coca-Cola for custom-made playing cards.
That in the beginning, the four suits seen on a deck of playing cards were coins, cups, swords, and sticks?
They have evolved to their modern versions: the coins suit is now the diamonds, the swords suit is now the spades, the sticks suit is now the clubs, and the cups suit (the cup symbolizes love) is now the hearts.
That aside from playing card games, the art of building houses using decks of playing cards is likewise a favorite pastime of many?
This art, created by Bryan Berg, is called Cardstacking. In 1992, Berg was awarded the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Tallest Card Tower” titleholder. Since then, he was won several more awards for building high towers made of playing cards. To date, his highest tower measures 25 feet and 3.5 inches. He used over 2,400 decks to build the tower.
That the Aces of Spades have helped the US troops fight the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War?
In 1996, two American lieutenants teamed up with the United States Playing Card Company. The soldiers requested from the company to send them decks of cards, but with just the Aces of Spades. They used the cards as a psychological strategy against the Viet Cong who were notoriously known for being superstitious.
The French used playing cards to foretell the future, and the Aces of Spades represented death. The US soldiers dispersed the Aces of Spades all over the jungles, and being their superstitious selves when the Viet Cong saw the forewarning of death; they left the jungles in fear.
That playing cards can either be made with paper or plastic?
The former is typically used to make playing cards, but in the recent years, more and more companies use plastic to make them more durable. To make a card using paper, layers of the material are used.
A few sheets of paper are stacked and glued together to make them more hard-wearing than the standard paper stock. To make them more long-lasting, cellulose acetate polymer is used to form a cast on the paper. Nowadays, vinyl plastics are also used to produce cards.
Awesome Decks of Playing Cards
Playing cards are not just used to play card games or to cardstack. They can be collected as well – especially if the deck is part of a limited-edition pack.
They can also be used for certain DIY craft projects. Most of all, they can be the perfect gift for card lovers. To help you shop, here are some of the best and most unique decks of playing cards in the market today.
Poker Face Deck of Cards is a deck of cleverly designed transparent cards featuring different poker face graphics. The cards are a collaboration between MollaSpace and Balance Wu Design. The fun thing about it is it “magically” hides the graphics on the back so the see-through feature won’t let any player cheat.
Made of bee paper, the MGCO Black Deck is a totally redesigned deck of cards. From its case to its symbols, and even the typography and aces used on the cards are brand new designs. The newly embossed tuck case is also adorned with green ink and gold foil.
Featuring custom court cards, newly designed jokers, and the ace of spades, Red Misc. Goods Co. playing cards are a unique, rare deck. The cards are printed by USpcc for one-time only. As part of the company’s limited edition pack, these cards will never be reprinted again. The deck is truly a collector’s item.
With an average review rating of four out of five stars from buyers, the Red Monarch Deck Premium Playing Cards has a sleek yet rustic feel. The brownish-red colored graphics of the cards make the deck give off a mix of urban and contemporary flair.
Manufactured in the US, this MGCO deck of playing cards in blue is completely redesigned and redone. Much like its red counterpart, this Misc. Goods Co. cards are eye-catching and fun to use.
A perfect deck of playing cards for history buffs, the Union Playing Cards set features graphics inspired by American history. The cards are made from an FSC-certified paper that came from sustainable forests. The ink used to design the graphics come from a special mixture made of vegetables.
This black-colored deck of cards from Misc. Goods Co. is a rare find. The dark shade of the graphics makes the cards look sleek and stylish. Even the tuck box is elegantly designed. This deck is also part of the company’s limited-edition packs.
A deck of card that screams “bling-bling,” Idea International Gold Deck of Cards will surely dazzle card players. The deck is manufactured by IDEA International in Japan and is considered one of the most awesomely-designed deck of cards on the market right now.
For an ultra-modern look and feel, the Day of the Dead Edition deck of playing cards features “black on black.” The color of the cards is black; the slightly embossed graphics are also printed in black. It also has a customized Day of the Dead themed tuck box.
Made in the USA, MailChimp is a deck of playing cards designed in collaboration with MailChimp and Fuzzco. The paper used to manufacture the cards is FSC-approved. MailChimp will donate 100 percent of their earnings from the sale of this special deck of playing cards to The Fugees Academy.
Designed by Ellusionist, the Killer Bees set is a deck of high-quality playing cards. As the name suggests, the design is inspired by the bees. It features a yellow honeycomb design against a simple, stark black background. It’s a deck best for different hand tricks.
Regarded as the most intricate and breathtaking deck of playing cards on the market, the Citizen Playing Cards set is a work of art. Each card is elegantly designed and appealing to the eyes. The paper and ink used to manufacture the cards are premium quality and are derived from sustainable forests.
Sporting real-like distressed faces and realistic textures, NoMad Playing Cards set is especially made for The NoMad Hotel in New York City.
Awarded the top spot at the GQ Holiday Gift Guide list, Monarch Playing Cards is now available in a Green Edition. It’s one of the most popular and luxurious deck of cards on the market today. These playing cards had been seen in the blockbuster movie, Now You See Me.
Interestingly-designed playing cards, the white gold edition of the Joker and the Thief deck of cards is custom-made. Each card is created using premium-quality materials like a casino-grade paper stock. The cards are also incredibly durable, thanks to their sturdy linen classic finish coating. This deck is also part of the limited-edition pack of the company.
Another bee-inspired deck of cards, the Bumble Bee pack is designed by Ellusionist. The high-quality playing cards sport an antiquated, classic look. From the profit sales of this special deck, 10 percent will be donated to honey bees all over the world through the IUCN.
Featuring an industrial look and feel into it, DeckONE is inspired by over three decades of TV and movie production. It’s metallic, gunmetal box is manufactured from a special paper that is 25 percent thicker than regular playing card boxes.
Theory 11 Rarebit is a limited-edition deck of playing cards. It’s called the Copper Edition because the card graphics as well as its box are prominently designed in rusted copper color.
Inspired by the MAD MEN, AMC’s hit TV series, the Pressers Mad Men Era Playing Cards features an eye-catching retro look and feel. The cards are designed by Ellusionist. They are manufactured using a combination of high-quality card stock and soft luxe paper.